There are many numbers of people claiming themselves to be liberals and libertarians. They present themselves to be the liberator of people from tyranny, honest, intellectuals, capable, brave and bold individuals who can take a strong stand in defence of liberty. It’s a myth that all of them even if they call themselves so, become a torch bearer of liberty.
Being fascinated by the philosophy of Liberty, Equality and Free Market Capitalism especially “Classical Liberalism” they tend to jump in to confuse themselves and others without really examining the concepts or understanding them.
Loosely speaking liberalism has been founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. ‘By definition’, Maurice Cranston rightly points out, ‘a liberal is a man who believes in liberty’ (1967: 459). In two different ways, liberal accord liberty primacy as a political value. (i) Liberals have typically maintained that humans are naturally in ‘a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions… as they think fit… without asking leave, or depending on the Will of any other Man’.
Classical Liberalism revolves around the degree of liberty and rights an individual possesses. A philosophy founded in the late 18th century in Europe. As there are differences in beliefs, there are different breeds of Classical Liberals. One must now question how do these classical liberals arrive at different conclusions on how much liberty are they willing to offer to individuals and why they differ. On rating scale the range of liberty must be in between zero liberty to absolute liberty. One must start questioning these liberals and libertarians on accounts of their measurement of the amount of liberty they believe in and their consistency on various conditions. One must question them why and what happens when an individual is given more liberty than they think it ought to be the limit. They seldom give a proper answer to that.
The so called liberals and libertarians will talk about freedom, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness all the time. Before it became “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of American Independence, John Locke wrote that man has a right to “life, liberty, and property” and that is what it is.
Now what is “Life, Liberty and Property” supposed to mean? Does “Life” mean in medical science or the anti-abortion movement or anti-death penalty movements, etc or does it mean everything that attributes and can be related to the word and the meaning of life? Does it not sound funny when a liberal or a libertarian justifies anti-abortion bill but supports the wars in which innocent civilians of all ages, born unborn are bombed? On one hand they will support sexual liberation of women and other hand they will bar her from deciding if she can terminate her pregnancy. How do their arguments on the justification of importance to life coincide with two contrasting situations of these scenarios?
Let’s now get into the Liberty part: We know that liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life. This is where the Isiah Berlin’s concept of two liberties comes in.
Isaiah Berlin advocated a negative conception of liberty:
I am normally said to be free to the degree to which no man or body of men interferes with my activity. Political liberty in this sense is simply the area within which a man can act unobstructed by others. If I am prevented by others from doing what I could otherwise do, I am to that degree unfree; and if this area is contracted by other men beyond a certain minimum, I can be described as being coerced, or, it may be, enslaved. Coercion is not, however, a term that covers every form of inability. If I say that I am unable to jump more than ten feet in the air, or cannot read because I am blind… it would be eccentric to say that I am to that degree enslaved or coerced. Coercion implies the deliberate interference of other human beings within the area in which I could otherwise act. You lack political liberty or freedom only if you are prevented from attaining a goal by other human beings (Berlin, 1969: 122).
For Berlin and those who follow him, then, the heart of liberty is the absence of coercion by others; consequently, the liberal state’s commitment to protecting liberty is, essentially, the job of ensuring that citizens do not coerce each other without compelling justification. So understood, negative liberty is an opportunity-concept. Being free is merely a matter of what we can do, what options are open to us, regardless of whether or not we exercise such options (Taylor, 1979).
Most liberals and libertarians would go all day ranting about the necessity of “absence of coercion by others” but then they will come up with a list of a thousand scenarios where they want to prevent you from attending your goals without harming any other individual. For example they believe that under circumstances like war it is justified to coerce individuals to fight for the nation, they feel it necessary to force and educate children in schools, they feel it necessary to force money and other resources out of peoples pocket who are anti-war to buy weapons for protection of theirs as well as others. They believe that force can be initiated on any individual if it for some social benefit or public goods. It sounds pretty mild but when a concept called as “social contract” is flung at your face with the name of welfare then you realize the gravity of the situation. Suppose in the name of humanity a liberal government like we see in the USA and Europe enters a war with its neighbouring nation and enforce conscription. Imagine you are the sole child or your parents or a father of a new-born child from a blind wife. There is no doubt that you love your fellow men and your nation, but you find it better to relocate to a safer place for the sake of your family. In other words you hold duties towards your family before your duty to fight wars for your country. Under the philosophy of liberty you are entitled to take such decisions. But you would find most liberals and libertarians wouldn’t agree that you have so called rights where you can refute a social contract and you are justified in doing so. Such liberals and libertarians call for increasing troops, interventionist foreign policies, supports militarism and conscription if necessary. However they in the same breath will hold that society constitutes of individuals and individuals are free to make and follow their own decisions. This is another paradox of theirs masked under the name of social contract.
Property: For most ‘Property’ is understood only as land and buildings if they are owned by private individuals or group or by public. However it can also be more accurately defined as something tangible or intangible to which its owner has exclusive rights on what they possess to do whatever they please to do with it. How the individual utilize their properties should be free from intervention until and unless they are not violating property rights of anyone else property rights. Property rights are essential to define justice and rationalize arguments. They must be fact based or result based judgement rather than “value based judgements”. Every human action yields a result. These results are relative to different individuals in different ways as per their “value” assessment. Suppose there are two individuals who entered holy matrimony.. Does this give them rights over each other’s bodies and life? If we look at our present society and its law.. It tends to do so in many instances. For example in India.. It is legal to marital rape of a wife if they are not separated. This law implies and considers the use of force justified for the so called legal husband to violate the private property.. That is the body of his spouse for his physical needs under the protection of the state. If I ask these so called fake liberals and libertarians they normally support such violations under the social contract. They justify that post marriage two individuals become one and that is the contract between them. Assuming this is true I wonder if I am the husband and my wife’s body is mine as per the contract of marriage then I can commit half a suicide by killing half part of my body which belongs to my wife. As we see the latter is an absurd and immoral argument. This is a violation of private property rights so was the former. These so called liberals and fake libertarians has utter disregard for property rights. You’ll find that they choose sides to justify the role of governments and its actions which suits their needs.
Libertarians are those who understand and take into account the natural laws from which the property rights are derived and hence a real libertarian will not be suggesting gender biased laws. Such laws and hype create gender differences. Across the globe.. Divorce laws are stacked against men as a general rule of the thumb.
Now having given you a minor insight into these absurd justifications on property rights it is essential to blast off some of the views that they hold on equality and democracy.
Respectfully, we must ask these liberals and libertarians what is it that they mean when they mean by equality? Does equality mean everyone should undergo genetic engineering and clone themselves as one another so that they are equal? Well.. Science tells us even with the exact biology or behaviour will not be same. The other question one must ask if we decide to clone every human being to be identical then probably we would decide it should be the smartest man ever. The contender to this theory would make Albert Einstein stand out as an exception. It would seem to genetically modify every new birth so that everyone is as smart as Albert Einstein. However when you’ll be carving for a cup of coffee or may require a maid to do the household work there will be a conflict as why should I do it as I am as good as you. This puts a serious concern on division of labour and individual interests. Why and how shall we decide which Einstein should solve complex math equations and which one should go in the kitchen to serve him coffee?
In another context suppose there is a lady who gives birth to twins and one of the babies has polio.. The only way to make them equal is to infect another one with polio or whatever excess he produces is taken away from him to balance out his underprivileged brother. In this example we see a conflict of value judgements if it is moral to impose on the healthier brother to keep the not so healthier restricted brother by polio to live up to the same standards. Such crucial questions give rise to politics and split into groups of special interests. We know that if the healthier brother is restricted by force to help out his unlucky brother.. That might breed hatred in him and might deter him from using his unknown potential to limit due to emotional factors. These absurd liberals and libertarians won’t be able to explain real life examples like these.
Compassion is a human nature. We know from history that a rich Prince called Siddhartha become Mahatma Budh or Gautam Buddha by his own will. Same example of an emperor called Ashoka. Alexander the Great who desired to rule the world gave back Porus his kingdom. Such example shows that good deeds are voluntary in nature and exists between classes. Hence there is no need for coercion. These examples are not rare but seen in day to day life across centuries. The question that most ask is how do we help those who are deprived of basic property rights to make their lives better? Such examples will be Bill Gates, Warren Buffet who wrote off their wealth which they acquired by trade and not coercion with those who needed it the most.
These fake libertarians would celebrate and quote such examples and in the same breath talk about why government should tax such wealthy people to achieve equality in our society. I always ask myself how does pulling someone who has achieved more than me down to my level serve humanity.
The other thing you’ll hear from them is democracy. Democracy simply means that if the majority wants their way.. The minority must accept with no regards to the outcome of those actions. This is the purest form of democracy and also called as direct democracy. Its simply mob rule or mobocracy and a mild version of communism. They can never explain why one in a billion can be correct in their assessment of what must be done to meet certain ends, which the billion others have failed to achieve so far. For example in Indian context.. Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience movement was considered stupid by both the Indian national congress and the British government until they felt the effects of it. This mean to meet the end which was freedom from imperial power was only achieved by one in billion Indian’s namely Gandhi. The Liberal Party of India, Indian National Congress, etc. were planning other means which may have never resulted in meeting the ends which India was seeking. The failure of violent revolt made it evident that violence is not the only mean to reach freedom.
Democracy doesn’t align in any form whatsoever with individual liberty nor can a mob match the capability of that of an individual.
The so called absurd Liberals and fake Libertarians will emphasis on democracy and will talk about the limited role of government, constitution, strong laws, strong policies etc. These words are pleasing to hear and on examination they would propose the same set of rules with a change of clause here and there. We have seen no government ever in history limited and bound to the constitution. We have seen no government ever which efficiently protects people’s life, liberty and property. In fact governments’ ability in these so called limited roles of policing, providing defence and delivering justice is questionable in itself. Police harassment, police brutality, tyranny by military, rising crime, increasing violence, etc shows the extent to which government has failed even in these roles. Judges are passing verdicts which are perverted and senseless. Thousands of innocent men and women caged up in jails without trial. When their innocence is proved the only compensation they get is a little sum of money from the government. However if an individual commits a grave mistake chances are that he might be hanging from the noose. The government has zero defence capability as you can that they cannot protect you from any form of attack by other nations or terrorists. They cannot even manage the border as we see with the rising number of immigrants without proper documentations who manage to sneak through. These are mostly poor people from poor neighbouring nation, who cross over in search of livelihood. Mostly such immigrant problem you’ll find where there is a powerful nation, capable to dominate, threaten and destroy the economy of its neighbours. The military is however good at aggression, forever eager to go at war: to murder, plunder, rape and pillage.
Let’s look at such liberals and libertarians in India and if they even qualify as someone who is a vanguard of freedom or yet another one of these fascist socialist democrats nitwits who suddenly feels freedom is a good thing.. But hey, not too much.
Most of our Indian liberals and so called libertarians are in a strong welfare state. In the same breath they never cease to criticize government failures on the provision of welfare. They quote over and over again those intellectuals who proved it why welfare is a bad thing. For gaining sentiments they would speak like most right wingers about the golden Indian era and also the liberal attitude of the British Government which benefited India. Most of them assume that Mahatma Gandhi was a true libertarian. Fundamentally and technically if you compare their views with the philosophies of classical liberalism and those of libertarians, they are way apart. Mahatma Gandhi comes close to preaching and practicing many of these noble teachings and way of life which lies in those libertarian philosophies. A real libertarian has never proposed democracy. Mahatma Gandhi did propose democracy and was faced with a dilemma on how to avoid the use of coercive force. He also created a cult called Gandhism which limited individual liberties of many people who may have followed a life they preferred.
The current Indian liberals worry me as they misinform and misguide the people. The rights to this and the right to that.. is another means to gain control and popularity of those who are unaware.
If you examine the views of the following groups and individuals, you would find that they do not believe in absolute freedom to individual but have their own version of mild socialism.
This is a list of both past and present political parties with liberal views.
- National Liberal Federation of India
- Swatantra Party
- Swatantra Bharat Party
- Liberal Party of India
- Swatantra Gokhale Party
- Lok Satta Party
Other liberal organizations
- Centre for Civil Society
- Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
- Freedom First
- Freedom Team of India
- India Policy Institute
- Indian Liberal Group
- Liberty Institute
- Praja Foundation
- Shetkari Sangathana
Prominent Indian Liberals
- Raja Ram Mohun Roy
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale
- C. Rajagopalachari a.k.a. Rajaji
- Minoo Masani
- B.R. Shenoy
Swatantra Bharat Party
Liberal Party of India
- Sanjeev Sabhlok
- Gurcharan Das
Lok Satta Party
Contemporary Indian Liberals
- Jagdish Bhagwati
- Deepak Lal
- Parth J. Shah, Founder President, Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi.
- Madhu Kishwar, Founder, Manushi
- S.V. Raju, President, Indian Liberal Group
- Surjeet Bhalla
- Shekhar Gupta
The liberal organizations are special interest groups which are interested in using the government for interest of certain groups of people or region. Liberate the farmers, liberate the backward classes, liberate women etc. They are talking about minority rights under democratic framework, a kind of reservation at the expense and cost of under group. Totally inconsistent with the philosophy of liberty and hence they cannot be termed liberals at all. The rest of the organization who were a part of the government at some point of their life and still wish to use government power to force people into freedom that they deem fit. In other words “You are free to do as we ask you to do”. This again as you see is not freedom but a dictatorship. The other liberal organizations are mere training institutes earning money from aspirant policy makers who wish to better themselves, IAS students, journalists and those who wish to learn how to exploit and expropriate by sweet talks by selling the illusion of freedom which they don’t really believe in themselves.
I would choose one such political party to put across my point and you’ll see the inconsistencies with liberalism and freedom. I choose this party probably because this is currently the most prominent one. Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan has his own outfit called the Lok Satta (People’s Rule). Every objective of the party deals with Socialist ideas of welfare like free education, free health care, farmers’ schemes, subsidies, government projects, regulations etc. All political parties make such claims and eager to prove that one is better than the other. All of these costs money which they will force others to pay. On one hand he talks of removing license, quota and permit raj and on the other he talks about strong regulatory policies, tax on windfall profits etc. I heard Dr. JP completely disregards an individual the right to profit from the property they possess. In one of his interviews where he suggested tax on windfall profits because he feels that its accidental profit and not profit from labor. I think next on his list will be inheritance tax which also has similar mechanics of profiting the heir who did nothing more than acquiring wealth of another individual who passed it on to him. Is this not something we hear from the Nazi’s and Communists? No wonder he saw nothing wrong to join hands with the communist party last year for fighting elections. When did expropriation and extortion become a part of liberty? He also wants the prices to be set by farmers and not by the market. This is again a special interest coercion where valuation of goods and unscientific as it disregards cost accounting completely and the price determination mechanism. Prices are only determined by the free market which he talks about. Does he not know why prices are important? How does he then propose price determined by one single entity called the farmers or the government? Next he wants a ban on alcohol. How does banning alcohol promote liberty? With the recent on-going trend of fighting corruption and injustice by misuse of government power, he decided to join the bandwagon of popularity. Taxation is a form of expropriation and hence theft. Followers of liberty will only ask for voluntary donations for welfare and never propose exploitation by expropriation. They will never talk about taxing the rich. This is how socialists and communists talk and it’s their philosophy not that of a liberal or a libertarian. His plans are to increase and efficiently deliver goods from public finance. We all know no one spends public finances the way they would carry out welfare from finances put from their own pockets or by the Herculean efforts of raising donations against the quality of welfare service that they have provided. They talk against the evils of inflation and wish to infuse the huge stack of so called black money which they want to acquire as soon as they get into power. How different will be the effects of such actions and different from that of inflating the economy is something they don’t talk off. They talk about Government officials taking bribes. They know that government officials are in an absolute position to misuse their power. Hence it is essential to destroy monopolistic absolute power and strong government with increased power doesn’t end corruption. They also support subsidies and tax holiday which again is in contrast with free market economics. These people talk against the current economic system and never fail to present fantasy land absurd Keynesian economic terms like GDP. Folks.. if your house is demolished and rebuilt the GDP will show an increase. This increase doesn’t necessarily mean progress but can also mean moving forward to the same point after being pushed back. These views of such parties are no different from all other socialist parties currently present in India.
To sum it up they support and worship democracy is not same as a voluntary society. Democracy gives rise to hegemonic society instead of a voluntary society where individual liberty is the epicentre. Absurd liberals and fake libertarians supports strong governments, numerous laws and policies interfering with everything that present system does but can never rationalize a proper reasoning why that power cannot be misused. They talk about freedom but are not ready to offer absolute individual liberty. They talk about decentralization of government power but never explain how it can be done without ending the monopoly of the government. They talk about removing corruption and corrupt people but they never explain how they would do so when they want powerful policies and regulations. They talk about life, liberty and property but ever ready to compromise them under the name of social contract.
These absurd liberals and fake libertarians are people with double standard and have nothing to do with liberty or freedom at all. They are dishonest as they talk something else and do something else. Beware of these wolves who are more dangerous than those who openly show where their interests lies and act as per their interest even if they are anti-liberal in nature, probably immoral too. And it’s not just the Lok Satta party but almost all of them.
The only liberals and libertarians who are for real are those who believe in absolute freedom and liberty. Those who understands that its not his business to interfere with life, liberty and property of other individuals who have not harmed or threatened his life, liberty and property. Man is a social animal and there will be interdependency and exchanges between different individuals. Those exchanges will be between them and hence no third party needs to intervene until and unless they are called in to do so by them.
The only person who cares for you and looks after you is your individual self. And you must be allowed to do so. You don’t need governments and other organizations coercing you into their welfare care system. We can take care of one another in absolute nonviolent cooperation amongst each other voluntarily.
These absurd liberals and libertarians are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothes and gives liberty a bad name.
For learning more about philosophies of life, liberty and property I suggest joining Indian Libertarians at www.indianlibertarians.org .
Wish you all a happy life, enjoy your liberties, fruits of your property and safeguard it.